In a recent blog post, we wrote about the federal probe into the mismanagement and hospital negligence in Veterans Administration hospitals across the country, including in South Carolina. Now VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned as a result of the investigation. After the public urging of accountability for the secretary and other officials who presided over the potential widespread medical malpractice perpetrated against our country’s veterans, the oversight of the scandal will now fall into the hands of his successor.
More information is being released about mismanagement and poor care at Veterans Administration hospitals all over the country, including the one in Columbia, South Carolina. What some have claimed to be a successful model of socialized medicine may actually have long wait lists for general care and procedures, delays that may have even led to wrongful death.
It can be a patient’s worst nightmare; going to a doctor to receive necessary medical treatment and ending up with new, and perhaps worse, medical problems caused by the care itself. That nightmare scenario plays itself out each year across the nation.
Although most people in South Carolina and across the country have heard of anorexia and bulimia, there’s a whole other category of eating disorders known as “Eating disorder not otherwise specified.” This catch-all phrase lumps together numerous patients with unhealthy eating behavior, but because it is so broad and the symptoms do not fit into typical categories like more mainstream disorders, patients are often left undiagnosed. Failure to diagnose is just one example of hospital negligence.
A recent study has revealed over 100,000 medical have problems with prescription drug abuse. The problem with any doctor, nurse, pharmacist or technician abusing such medications is quite obviously that it can lead to patient injury or medical malpractice.
South Carolina residents may be surprised to learn how frequently doctors make mistakes when diagnosing their patients' symptoms. A survey published on April 16 in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety reports that up to 12 million Americans, which equates to more than one in 20 adults, are misdiagnosed each year. The study was conducted by a Houston-based veterans affairs center that compiled research from several sources, including medical malpractice claims.
An incident involving a woman who died by hypothermia and asphyxiation after she was put in a body bag by hospital personnel may be of some interest to people who live in South Carolina. The 80-year-old woman from California was originally believed to have died from a heart attack back in July 2010. The hospital declared her to be dead, and she was put in the hospital's morgue, according to the report.
Some hospitals are adopting practices for handing off patients when doctors and nurses change shifts that could reduce misunderstandings. Sometimes when shift changes occur, important information is not communicated to the new staff or is misunderstood, thereby increasing the possibility of poor patient care in South Carolina and nationwide. By taking a moment to personally hand off patients to the people coming on shift, medical professionals might be able to decrease errors that lead to medical malpractice litigation.
South Carolina residents concerned about medical malpractice may have heard of the recent sentencing of a New York surgeon who admitted to performing thousands of surgeries improperly from 2007 to 2011 and defrauding the federal government. The surgeon pled guilty to one count of health care fraud and was sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $5 million in restitution to the government for fraudulent Medicare claims and had his medical license suspended.
Readers from South Carolina may be concerned to learn of a recent study that may indicate marked inequalities in the quality of medical care around the nation. According to researchers, inpatient mortality rates can potentially differ by as much as 30 percent depending on factors as seemingly basic as the number of nurses assigned to each patient and the proportion of nurses with bachelor's degrees. Statistics like this could mean that the chances of falling victim to a form of medical malpractice could increase depending on factors that are wholly outside the patient's control.